KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Prized rookie Bobby Witt Jr. made an eye-popping play at third base to nail a runner at the plate in the top of the 10th inning, then Adalberto Mondesi’s RBI single in the bottom half lifted the Kansas City Royals over the Cleveland Guardians 1-0 Saturday.
With a runner at third and one out in the Cleveland 10th, Oscar Mercado hit a hard grounder down the line that looked like it might break the scoreless tie.
But the 21-year-old Witt, the top-rated prospect in the majors, skidded onto his knees to make a backhanded stop. All in one motion, he made an off-balance throw home, where All-Star catcher Salvador Perez backhanded the ball on the second hop and made a swipe tag to get Owen Miller.
“(Collin) Snider was throwing that nasty sinker in there, so I knew there was a possibility of the ball coming to me,” Witt said. “I knew they’re going on contact, too.”
“The ball was hit to me and I just threw the ball. I knew I had to get it to Salvy because I knew he was going to make the play on it,” he said.
Kyle Isbel began the bottom half as the automatic runner at second base and moved to third on a single by Hunter Dozier. Mondesi followed with his single to center off Emmanuel Clase (0-1).
“When we started to get going offensively, they made some plays,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.
Snider (1-0) pitched one inning in his major league debut. The Royals improved to 2-0 with their second win over the Guardians.
Brad Keller allowed two hits in six innings for Kansas City, striking out five with one walk.
“Brad looked like a different pitcher,” Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “…He was so efficient, pounding the zone, getting ahead. That’s everything we were hoping to see. He did a great job handing it off to a bullpen that was so impressive, right down the line, every single one of them.”
Royals relievers Dylan Coleman, Amir Garrett, Taylor Clark, Josh Staumont and Snider combined for four innings of scoreless ball with five strikeouts.
Cleveland starter Zach Plesac pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up three hits. He fanned three and walked none.
Andrew Benintendi went 3 for 4 and got half of Kansas City’s hits.
Steven Kwan had two of Cleveland’s five hits.
The Guardians have RHP Cody Morris (right back strain) and RHP Carlos Vargas (right elbow rehab) on the injured list.
The series continues on Sunday with Cal Quantrill starting for Cleveland against Kris Bubic.